Jessica Jarrell rocks mid-length ombre hairstyle
Hair Color | Ombre Hair

Blonde Balayage Highlights For That Summer Look

Hair trends come and go, but season after season, there has been one constant among color trends – gradient hair is always in demand. Over the past few years, tastemakers in the beauty world have transitioned from foil highlights and solid all-over color to softer and more natural looking styles. These days, the hottest look is grown out and slightly unkempt. The slow-fade styles add depth and dimension, and mean much more time in between salon visits. But when you do see your colorist, what exactly do you ask for? Ombré? Sombré? Balayage? Babylights? Below we break down the differences between these four low-maintenance styles so you know exactly what you want before you book your next appointment at the salon.

Unlike traditional foils, where the highlights are uniform and defined, the balayage hair color technique – taken from the French word meaning “to sweep” – is a freehand technique in which swatches of hair are sectioned and hand painted against a backing board with a lightening agent. After painting, each swatch is covered in cellophane. As balayage highlights are less systematically placed, you end up with fatter, less symmetrical, more random highlights, resulting in a more casual, sun-kissed finish. Balayage works on short hair and long, and is a great option if you like the look of chunkier highlights with more contrast and less blonde.


For the last few years, ombré has been an extremely popular color trend. Another freehand technique, ombré simply means shaded or graduated in tone. While ombré was initially the gradual lightening of the hair from dark to light, it has expanded to take on various other techniques, including the fading of a natural color from the roots to a more unnatural color (such as turquoise or lavender) at the tips. The variety of this trend is seen season after season, on celebrities, designer runways and on the streets.


Unlike ombré, sombré is a much more subtle take on the dip-dye trend. The name is actually a combination of ‘subtle’ and ‘ombré’. With sombré, the lighter sections start up a bit higher and the lower lengths have ribbons of dark color for a more gradual transition. Just like its predecessor, the worn-in look is perfectly low-maintenance. There’s no need for constant touch-ups due to there being no clear line of root-growth.


Babylights are much finer highlights, and basically mimic the natural highlights of a child (hence the name). Hair is separated into tiny sections and color is applied to each group of strands and left for an hour or longer. The process is time-consuming, but you’re left with a more multidimensional, radiant, natural-looking head of highlights.


Whether you decide on ombré, sombré, babylights or balayage for your next hair color, your at-home maintenance routine is the key to keeping your highlights looking gorgeous. The Schwarzkopf essence ULTIME Diamond Color line was designed specifically for highlighted hair. Infused with intense moisturizers, the products in the Diamond Color and Radiance line will leave you with sleek, soft hair without stripping the color. So book an appointment with your colorist, stock up on your Schwarzkopf and lighten up for spring.